Valentimes Part One

Yeah, I posted Valentimes Part Duex before I posted Part One. Also, I’m posting Part One after the big day. I’m not offering a defense of my timing, either way. It’s my blog and…

So, there.

Anywho…I’ve given between 3500 and 4000 rides since I started driving for Lyft about 18 months ago.

There’s been fewer than expected drunks.

More than anticipated Tinder “dates” – and you’d be surprised how many people pay extra to spring for a Lux ride to take them away from said “dates”…

Rides to funerals and memorials.

Countless healthcare and essential workers during the – sadly – ongoing pandemic.

A couple of unapologetic bastards conservatives.

Trips to or from the E.R. Too many, in fact.

Side note: how sad is it that our effed up healthcare system makes it necessary to take a goddamned Lyft to an E.R. instead of calling an ambulance?!?

And exactly two women who made me cry either during or after their rides.

Goddamned widows. Rubbing my perpetual singledom in my face.

I was actually okay at one widow.

Specifically, the one whose husband died a few years back. He sounds like he was a great husband, I heard their love story – which lasted 41 years.

But he sounded like a fucking badass, too.

Not because he drove a vintage black Mustang convertible.

Nor because they were high school sweethearts.

Or clearly wealthy. Particularly because his widow seemed like she was continuing to live a modest life after his death in honor of his memory, suggesting that the pleasures of their lives together were similarly modest.

The more exciting adventures I learned about during our ride were short bursts compared to the simple daily joys she described.

Their first date. Birthdays. Humble chivalry.

These were the things neither of these people took for granted in their relationship. They didn’t use one another in pursuit of the next big thing – either as an excuse or a means.

Her story was one of a satisfying life together. Inspiring to me in its endurance, something that I fear too few even aspired to in today’s value system.

The second widow was actually the first. Hearing her story made me think I should write a Valentine’s Day post. But it was the second widow who made me realize that the universe wasn’t going to let me off the hook.

Writing a book about my dating misadventures or fictionalizing my own ideals of relationships in my No One Of Consequence book series wasn’t going to cut it.

The least I could do is write an account of true love, even if it was only second hand.

Widow Number One earned her title when her husband had a major heart attack on Valentine’s Day last year.

Strictly going off visual cues, I’d say she was late 70s. I was taking her to work. She was looking like she’d be her own badass, and ended up being a heroic example of living a life for me.

Fret not, I picked her up in the South Waterfront neighborhood, which is pretty high rent. Ok, it’s fucking high rent, so she wasn’t working at nearly 80 because she had to.

Turns out, she doesn’t drive at all. Her husband used to take her to work before he died. Luckily (?) the pandemic closed the office down before her bereavement leave put her back to work. Now, she only had to go to the office once a week to ensure things were running smoothly. Normally, she figured she’d take the bus, but…pandemic + late 70s = bad combo.

She was enjoying Lyft, though, and the way she said that made me suspect she was enjoying it as a throwback to her husband taking her to work. I’m pretty sure her return to the office after this all ends will include at least an occasional escort to work.

She told me that when she was going through her husband’s things, she found several Valentine’s Day cards he’d made for her. I thought it was weird that he’d kept them, not her. But as she continued on, I realized these were unused cards.

That got me.

On top of being the kind of guy who encouraged his wife to work a part time office job after their kids left the nest, then celebrated her success when her search for post-child rearing purpose earned her a promotion to office manager after several years – she told me proudly that her employee number was 13, so she’d been there a while.

This is the guy who found his own post-retirement fulfillment in driving his wife to and from work to support and nurture her happiness.

This guy spent his in between hours working on his art. He was a post-career artist. Why would I be surprised that this guy made or was in the process of completing future Valentine’s Day cards for his wife?

Putting myself in that mindset, I got it. It wasn’t about making a card instead of buying one. It was about making one that appropriately captured the depth of feeling he had for his wife. Something that expressed the gratitude one must feel toward the person who accompanies you on the journey of a literal lifetime.

You might not always get that on the first pass. She said these cards were, of course, beautiful and I could tell that finding them had touched her very deeply. But I could easily stay a while in that position her husband must have found himself in – even now: not fully being able to express how this woman made him feel. Abandoning a card because it wasn’t good enough for his wife. <sigh>

But it shows how attitudes and behaviors have changed over the decades. I don’t think I’d have to defend the additional statement that a lot of those changes might have been for the short term good, but long term bad of the individuals.

And I can’t even get a return text.

While you’re here: If you haven’t yet and are curious about the writing works I mentioned earlier – Dating Into Oblivion and No One Of Consequence – check out my author page: https://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Galbreath/e/B07PLNKTHB/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 for a view of my work. All books are available in paperback or e-book formats – and the e-books are cheap and the pages don’t fall out as I’ve heard from one of my supportive blogging buddies! It’s also a good way to keep up with the blog, since they post to my author page as well as here. I can’t say the same about the consistency of my Facebook author page…

Regardless, thanks for stopping by!

Valentimes Part One

Valentimes Part Duex

You ever have one of those days?

Weeks? Months? Years?

Lives?

One of my favorite things to say back when I was giving 50-60 hours a week to the man was:

Today’s been one hell of a week.

Chrisism. Use it in good health.

I reworked it last year for quarantimes into “2020 has been a hell of a decade“, but it just didn’t hit as hard.

Anyway, 2021 has kind of started off distinguished only from 2020 by a singular event for me: the inauguration of an adult as president. Otherwise, SSDD.

Case in point, even though I declared my dating exploits over at the completion of the yearlong effort that led to Dating Into Oblivion (I swear that there’s a link to buy it somewhere on this blog page, should you be queerious), I still maintain a profile on Adam4Adam and occasionally recreate a profile on the human cesspool known as Grindr.

But, despite the Silver Fox’s assertion that I’m too hard on people, I maintain a standard when it comes to asocial media.

While that standard may look like me doing my damndest to die alone, I swear it’s really a filter that allows others to unintentionally self-select out of my dating pool.

Basically, everyone blocks me all of the damn time.

Por ejemplo, just last night, I had a guy launch into his schtick with me. For those of you wondering what a millennial gay considers a best foot:

Sup

No punctuation, no introduction.

Sup

I can reasonably assume that the string of vowels and consonants in his profile’s headline is his name, still…confirmation would be overly taxing? It looks both unpronounceable without a little guidance and vaguely Hawaiian.

Also, to his credit, there is blessedly, no butthole pic.

This is really what happens…do you think any reaction would be reasonably considered “too hard” on these friggin’ ass clowns?

Since Grindr is nice enough to alert users when someone looks at their profile, I cannot help but notice that Sup has not looked at mine.

So…I look at his, just to kill some time in case there’s somehow a backlog in what I’m sure is the very high tech and sophisticated alert system on this…mess of an app.

Uh-huh. We’re both tops – Google it – and he specifically calls out that interested parties should not be over 35.

Really, I guess I should be flattered that while my actual age is an anagram of 35…I am most decidedly not 35, but somehow made it through his filter.

Did you read my profile?

Impressively, he responds in the negative and enthusiastically says he will do so right now. Then logs out.

Fucking millennials.

My notifications are still showing me as invisible to The Gays, so I know he didn’t check me out and then – reasonably – run off into the woods.

Seventeen hours later he messages me back, seemingly having missed my anagrammatical eligibility to put Lil Xtopher somewhere I know he doesn’t want him.

I point out our disparate definitions of the term “right now” and…he blocks me.

Far be it for me to brag, but this happens multiple times a month. I know. Every month, I’m blessed to be able to demonstrate to people the benefit to themselves of not knowing me.

Namely, that without me in their lives, they can carry on blindly running full speed into pain walls that they themselves built. Heaven forbid, someone actually want to help another person become a better version of themselves. Or, y’know…a decent human being that contributes more to Gay Kulture than supporting their local STD clinic.

Remember…this is a Valentine’s Day post.

I really don’t know why I tease you by dangling that carrot shaped sex toy that – I hope – got mangled in the garbage disposal while awaiting its return to service.

That was graphic. Maybe now is a good time for a shot break.

This is my life, folks. And you wonder why I proChristinated my colonoscopy…

Except…every now and again someone seems to be looking out for me.

Now, a wise person – as I consider myself to be…shituationally – knows to take a fix up at about 1/1000 of its face value.

This is a brief tale about that one time a bar owner tried to set me up with the only other gay guy at the bar. And by “at the bar” I mean in the Pandemic Pivot of a Beer Garden that the owner of Big Legrowlski has managed to pull off. It’s really something. Five tents, broken into a group of two and three by a fire pit. Each tent has a physics defying heater mounted to the roof, meaning when I come out in December and January to support my local…I’m freezing my giggle berries off.

Anyway, last weekend, the bar owner comes over to keep me company for a second. He leads with a few seconds of small talk and then – in a fit of foreshadowing that makes me momentarily worried about the quality of his wife’s sex life – plunges into the real reason for his visit.

Hey, do you see that guy behind me?

Literally ever guy at the beer garden aside from he and I. I give him exasperated eyes.

To the left!

I look.

No mate, my left. Sorry. Sorry.

Cue up the Throwback Offenses!

Just as every Black person had likely heard a version of “I’m not normally into…but…”, every gay person has had a well intentioned abortion of a fix up from a well-intentioned straight friend who tries to fix up the only two gay people they know. Or, as in this case, the only two gay people in their general vicinity.

Argument against the existence of God: this phenomenon.

Somehow, this guy ends up joining us. Around my table, it’s: mine truly, the bar owner and then this…guy, and finally an empty seat in the clockwise position.

Buffers are important. Even when not needed.

I’d already told the bar owner “Hard pass” once we nailed down The Gay In Question. I’d even helpfully pointed out a few of the other guys at the fire pit that could eat crackers in my bed, just not this guy.

He was one of those classic “Is over 40, acts under 30″ gays.

How he ended up at my table – or why – was a short lived mystery. After being introduced by name by the bar owner but getting nothing in return (classic basic fag move) I also come to realize that this guy is a low talker.

It’s an exhausting – read: excruciating – 10 minutes. I should have just taken the hit and dragged Mumbles off to the giant elephant statue in the park for a blowie to get rid of him.

Glad, was I, that I did not.

As clumps of sand broke through my life force hourglass, I began to realize that Mumbles was into the bar owner.

The straight, father of two bar owner.

What an idiot.

Read the fucking tent, man.

Alas, this socially illiterate ‘mo starts playing grab ass with the bar owner’s nipples. That is something I will endure in a goddamned gay bar, but within normal societal watering holes, you keep that shit tight.

Not this clown college drop out.

Only minutes passed, I’m sure…but it felt like one hell of a week between meeting this guy and him crawling back into the sewer that birthed him. Small victories, though, I was still in possession of my table.

That’s enough for me. I might be perpetually single, but I can hold down a goddamned table in a beer garden in a rain storm.

You’d think that would be enough Dating Into Oblivion visitations for me for 2021, but no. Like a trooper – a. very. bored. trooper. – I maintain my usual divided attention at home while watching TV.

Shameless vs Words With Friends.

Then on the next episode, Shameless vs Adam4Adam.

Then on the next episode, Shameless vs Instagram and Facebook in a Battle Royale of short attention spans.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The end result being that maybe I got my own date.

Slated to meet this coming (all over) Sunday at the Big Legrowlski. He seems nice, but if nothing else, this purple haired, four off-the-ears-facial-piercings guy in his 30s – I know, so many piercings for a guy that age…but at least he can commit! – will serve as a visual aid to the bar owner as to the type of guy he should drag before me in the future.

Crappy Valentimes, errybody! And, yes…I know that Part Deux preceded Part Un.

Part Un is…special. Maybe bring tissue. Or your label maker and a box to store your jadedness in.

Valentimes Part Duex

Yeah, This Tracks…

You know me…every day is just another opportunity for me to put my affairs – not that kind, Diezel – in order before I die alone.

Today was no exception.

It was a day that started out strangely well, considering a night of whack sleep. I’d fallen asleep for <30 minutes last night on the couch around 8, but was then completely wide awake. I didn’t take my new favorite weed syrup sleep aid before bed because I was meeting my parents at 10 this morning to go look at bathroom fixtures and entry lights for a few projects they have going on at Galby Acres and I didn’t want to oversleep.

Naturally, I woke up at 730. <eyeroll>

No matter, I had errands that I could run before meeting up with M&D at 10 and actually managed to overcome my usual morning torpor and get to it. Of course, my parents surprised me with an en auto breakfast – restaurants are closed to dine in customers here in Portland, so we got take out and ate in the car like hippies – and after we hit the kitchen/bath/lighting shop, they re-surprised me by letting me tag along to watch them car shop.

It was a good morning.

When they dropped me back home, mom admonished me to take the rest of the day off, like spending my morning with them had been some sort of chore. I fully intended to comply, but then decided to just pop out for a couple hours.

Mistake.

I was out for just under three hours and only had six rides. Most of my time was spent sitting on the 5 northbound since it was after 230, and even in a pandemic under lockdown orders, the idiots that live across the river in Washington – with its lower property taxes and no income tax – but come to town for our higher paying jobs and sales tax free shopping have found a way to make a three mile drive take 15+ minutes. I had one ride that took me to the second to last freeway exit before the state line and the next two hours were spent with me getting almost back to the city core before being called back to one of the last two exits before entering Vantucky.

Actually, my third ride was to pick up my second passenger, because he got nauseous being that close to Washington completed his errand quickly and I was still the closest driver. That was a first: a back to back repeat rider.

After yo-yoing between almost downtown and the state line for the next two rides, I decided to put my app on Home Mode and call it quits. Earnings were crap, since I’d spent most of my time sitting in traffic…and none of those apparently entitled bastards understood how gratuities work. Or their sense of entitlement made me driving 15-20 minutes to fetch them for a 6 minute ride seem equitable.

I’d roll my eyes, but they are still sprained from the last epic eyeroll…

I got one ride on the way home.

In true Portland style, this is my passenger’s avatar.

Well, that looks like it is gonna be an entertaining ride. If it was a cis-woman, I was prepared to be hyper aware of how easily she could snap me in half. But I suspected it was merely another queer youth expressing his gender-fluidity.

I was right.

Still, we had a nice and amiable chat during our 8 minutes together. I learned he was going to his boyfriend’s for an at home date night, which sounded super sweet. They started dating just after lockdown 1.0 and have been together a little over six months.

I don’t know why I was surprised to pull up to his boyfriend’s house and think “I’ve picked someone up here before…”

Imagine my surprise when my passenger replied.

Oops.

I vamped and said that I thought I’d given his BF a ride before. I immediately called up a mental picture of the guy – like a stoned out, slightly-too-old-for-it skater boy who was newly missing a front tooth when I picked him up. He awkwardly came out to me during our ride after bitching about how picking up an extra shift at work was better than hanging out at home with his bitch ex-wife, who he also worked with so it was not easy to manage time apart.

His words.

He talked a little about the guy he was seeing before I dropped him off at a dispensary a few blocks away.

Imagine my surprise as I sat in the driveway trying to decide whether to head left or right and a call came in, taking me to the left. A right and a couple of miles had me pulling up to my next ride…at the sister store for Mr Nice Guy.

Only me…

I think it’s because something weird like that would only happen to me, but it might also be because I’m one of the few who would notice that type of coincidence.

Still, if I dropped the woman I picked up at the second shop at the house where I’d just picked up my previous ride, I was fully prepared to laugh all the way home. Luckily, that did not happen.

Back to tonight, though, I tell the guy that I think I’d given his boyfriend a ride before and asked if he worked at a weed shop.

Me? No, I work at a pizza joint.

Okaaaay.

Clarifying I had meant his BF, while thinking that even with his tendency to capture makeover moments on film – he was not wearing any overt makeup tonight – that he should be able to do better than the guy inside that house, my young, gender-fluid passenger laughs awkwardly and gets out of the car.

Affording me the opportunity to see the Mr Nice Guy logo on the hoodie he was wearing.

Fuck my life.

Luckily, I’d ordered a beer delivery from Big Legrowlski whilst sitting in traffic on the 5 and it was presently waiting for me at home. A Pallet Jack or two oughta set me just right, allowing me to forget that a burnout type guy missing a front tooth can get a boyfriend and I’m sitting at home drinking alone with the ever disdainful Mistress Myrtle.

Because, with Myrtle around, you’re always alone. I hope she ends this game of cat and Xtopher she’s playing soon and puts me out of my misanthropy…

Yeah, This Tracks…

The Word of the Day is: Myopic

No, no…not a Mayo pic.

Myopic.

I’d dare say not many would accuse me of lacking imagination. And thanks to my mother’s apparently favorite game when I was growing up – What If – I think that I’ve a well-nurtured sense of foresight, and I’m on the look out for all the possible outcomes I can imagine. Also courtesy of my parents and their desire to provide me with a good education and hold me accountable to a respectable return on their educational investment, I think I have an above average grasp of intellectual insight.

All of this provides me with the wherewithal to ask with a straight face:

What the fuck are you people doing?!?

It also provides me with the ability to analyze my own history of asking such challenging questions and determine from the past patterns of behaviors what the response will be.

And yet, knowing that…I still ask.

I think being raised the way I was, having the values instilled in me that my parents and education provided and then living the life I have as an adult keeps me from writing these stupid, stupid Americans off as a loss as so many do. And encourage me to do as well…but I can’t.

When even Melania Trump gets it enough to even articulate if not fully understand her own First Lady branding, well…I guess with that low bar I expect just about anyone to understand how to Be Best.

Or better. Or whatever the hell slogan she puts on the hats on her website.

Ah, found it. It’s Be Best. And here’s a picture that sums up the execution of her own initiative about as well as anything else that this administration has done:

Although, I particularly enjoy this iteration, too…

So, why am I rambling on about myopia?

Honestly, it’s mainly because I continue to be broadsided – and I mean that I’m a completely genderless manner – by people pursuing their own myopic interests, usually in an overtly selfish manner. But on occasion in a super nice looking cloak of larger social issues. Even if that cloak doesn’t actually go with the rest of their outfit, if you know what I mean.

For.

Example.

Exhibit A:

I was just caught off guard by this guy chatting me up on A4A while I was responding to a message from a guy I’ve been trading platonic, neighborly messages with since he lives down the street from me and the Silver Fox seems to have abandoned me. (By the way, SF, you’re out of everything again…😂)Remember the guy I was there chatting with? He’s close to me, just like I am to this guy. Perhaps my failure to demand to see his junk has somehow retarded the advancement of our friendship. Nah, I kid…it’s because he doesn’t drink.

Anyway, I declined this Hungjock1995’s offer to view and assess my junk, assuring him I was a fair and modest representation of my race and gender. He didn’t want to take my word for it.

See how he throws out himself as representing “the normal” of The Gays as a pejorative? Our prior few messages were all one word replies from him, which is the challenge you see at the top of the frame in the first pic. As his criteria for engaging are: attractive, nearby and big dick, I can’t disagree with that assessment, I just won’t accept it and speak out against it when I encounter it.

Honestly, I don’t know what I expected from someone whose screen name is Hungjock1995 and can’t muster the fortitude required to have a face pic on his profile. It seems like my habit of telling people my name when I engage with them and unabashedly decorating my asocial media profiles with a picture of my face makes me unique.

And that was my catalyst for finally tapping this out. This guy can’t see past the tip of his own dick far enough to act like a normal human being. Nor can he muster any sense of shame or appropriate mortification for his behavior when it’s pointed out to him. He just sinks back into the cesspool of collectively acceptable human behaviors, indicating that other people let him get away with it so it’s ok.

Quite a dichotomy at work there: unapologetic about crap behavior, smart enough to at least not associate his image or sully his good name with those same behaviors.

Seems like he is hung in the “all frank, no beans” way. Cuz his cowardly behavior clearly indicates the absence of a set of balls.

His myopic world vision is at least self-serving in an immediate way: he wants to get his (apparently sunflower seed sized) rocks off.

Other people’s recent nearsightedness has had a more immediately dangerous impact. Actively treating others with disrespect in pursuit of your own selfish desires only demonstrates the minimally acceptable behaviors to the people who’s paths you cross, setting an example for them to live down to. Given my parting shot before – I assume – getting blocked, people don’t experience bad behavior anymore and think “I didn’t deserve that”. Nowadays, they look at those experiences and the takeaway seems to be “Ok, so that’s what I can get away with, too!”

Exhibit B:

There’s this local activist whose Instagram profile I came across as I’ve been witnessing my anarchist jurisdiction of a hometown’s protests from the mostly safe distance Instagram provides. So I followed him. When I see good content, I want to keep seeing it – and these protests are too important to not see. Yes, I just worked Nazi into this example that is centered around police brutality.

Then he followed me.

Then he followed me from a secondary account.

Instead of making a nice veil out of that red flag to match the dress and continent dragging train I’ve made with the other red flag behaviors men give me, I just took it at face value and let it lie.

See? Sometimes I can be chill.

Ok, maybe I called it out a little and accepted the response that one was his personal page and the other was – and I’m paraphrasing here – more of his brand page where he could catalogue his participation in the protests. Just like he didn’t overreact when I observed that his accounts both seemed to like each other’s social media activity quite a lot.

That’s the way it’s done.

Gawd, I really loathe that rationale.

But I’m chill. I let it go.

He’s got good content on his protest page. The messaging is responsible and he’s not glamorizing any of the more destructive elements of our local protests – which makes his content a lot more focused on the point than the news seemed to be able to do.

And as I watch his feed for the next few months and we trade messages that are sometimes nearly long enough to qualify as a conversation, I begin to feel a familiarity. Like we’re people who could meet in real life and have a not-awkward conversation…yes, this is the bar these days.

Of course, then he starts working in videos of his remote viewing experiments and I think, “Oh, here we go…all aboard the Crazytown Express”. Not too long after that, I see him on the Grindr and am not even upset that he’s a Top/Vers, because I’m not thinking like that. However, I also see his profile blurb and wonder why men even bother to speak. Gay men in particular seem to do nothing with their mouths of any value unless their lips are wrapped around a – well, never mind. His profile ends with him imploring people to “be realistic”.

The implication there not being that it’s not realistic to expect him to be polyorgasmic or ready to settle down on the first date. No, the implication was more, “Look how desirable and hot I am! If you aren’t as hot as me, don’t bother.”

I may have only nearly avoided experiencing a remote vomiting episode.

Which is really disappointing after the effort he’s put into polishing up that turd of a personality on his other social media profiles. But I get it, it’s 2020. People compartmentalize their needs in order to meet them expeditiously. Truly, I believe that compartmentalization is part of how people become so myopic. They forgive themselves their shitty behaviors by locking them away, out of sight and view themselves only through the filter of their better qualities they keep on public display.

For instance this guy’s Grindr profile presumably meets his sexual needs as well as his need to posture and establish himself as superior to others.

But I let that go. I thought about calling it out, because, really…it’s one sentence. How hard could it be to edit it out or carry on with the burden of ignoring advances from unworthy and unrealistic people? But I’m chill, I let it go.

Then last night I saw him attending a wedding on his Instagram.

In Texas.

I’d only recently gathered that he’s from Texas, as a story from the day before was his family singing happy birthday to him – so I also assumed that was the reason for his trip. I get that. I’ve experienced the familial pull to come home when living away.

But, in a pandemic?

To Texas?

And the birthday story seemed to be evenly split between people who take their health for granted and people whose age puts them at risk on top of any other underlying conditions that may be present.

I kept it low key with a private response to his post…

He seemed so much smarter than that level of behavior. He consistently wore his mask while at protests – not even doing that dumb thing people do where they pull down their mask to talk.

But here he was, traveling to Texas and immediately exposing his family to whatever he brought in from Oregon as he loaded up with whatever the Texas fam had to give him to bring back…by not wearing a mask at either the birthday party or the wedding.

And then he publicly posts my private message to him on his story.

It was super nice of him to block out my profile pic – which is just the cover of my first book, including my name but no picture of mine truly. His response was…uninspired.

And after that, I was done with the conversation and went back to watching The X-Files. If he’s in that headspace where he’s defending his brand over his individual wants and whims, I have heard that song too many times.

That’s his nearsightedness. I didn’t really feel the need to let him practice his validations and rationalizations on me.

Little did I know, he wasn’t done. When I checked back in before bed, he’d added like four new thoughts to what had become his one sided conversation. Apparently, he was going to practice his PR regardless of input from me.

So, I spared my words in response and gave him the “Sure, Jan” and “Live Long & Prosper” emojis and went to bed.

It’s amazing how hard someone will work to defend their actions instead of thinking, “Geez, people will probably have an issue with this action…maybe I shouldn’t post it until a future date, if at all”.

One path certainly seems like less effort.

But also…less attention.

You know how in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell is saved by people clapping? I think that’s what it is, clapping…it could be something else. And not to draw any unintentional lines between The Gays and stereotypes like Tinkerbell…but that’s what’s going on here. This guy can’t not do the right thing and not engage in risky behavior by attending a wedding in Texas – which was certainly a myopic decision in and of itself by the bride & groom. Nor can he not get the attention – positive or negative, because he comes right out and says that he knew people would take issue with his decision – for participating so he just throws out his videos for the world to lavish him with attention in any form.

Look. The Fuck. At. Me.

I see you.

No, no…I see you.

Your validation for going is that it was your best friend, who apparently holds you in such high regard that he invited you to his Hot Zone Wedding. You back that up with some Swiss cheese pseudo-scientific BS about keeping your masks on until picture time – and I’m sure that the virus would certainly respect your need for photos at this wedding and not take advantage of your naked faces. Just like smoke did in bars when it was permissible – it never made anyone’s clothes reek of smoke but the people who actively smoked inside.

Riiiight.

For good measure, he reminded me that he’s a social worker and that two of his friends that attended are teachers and parents.

That didn’t make me feel any better at all for the future. Actually, it made me feel low key bullied…so I haven’t engaged with him about his going on three day layover in Seattle on his way home from Texas – so much for that quarantining he assured me he was going to do when he returned.

Please, be realistic

Exhibit C:

I’m taking a break – I’m exhausted reliving this…should I mention it all happened over the course of 30 hours? From the first Exhibit, which is actually C, to now – the point at which I need a break because my eyes are crossing from reliving these experiences…

BRB.

Aaaand…it’s been two days. Trust me, Exhibit C is just continuing to make me believe that we are going to “evolve” into nearsighted cyclops.

Cyclopses? What the hell is the plural of cyclops? Moreover, should I just know this by this point in my life?

I don’t know…

So, longtime readers/followers should have a ton of problem picking out my triggers from this post I found on a friend’s Facebook feed. Wait, I guess it’s my feed, but the friend’s post appeared on it.

Anyone want to go first?

No? Ok…<deep breath>

First, generalizations. All non-cis-male and non-white people were rioting prior to RBG’s death. ✅

Second, they attacked white cis-men, while not acknowledging that up until maybe two years ago, they enjoyed that label, even if only as a product of other people’s assumptions. ✅

Third, they are using emotionally charged words and absolutes. Also, misusing the word “literally”. Absolutes OM particular are credibility dealbreakers for me. When people say things like “everyone” or “all the time”, etc, I pretty much crack my knuckles and prepare to slap my trust buzzer. Hard.

Fourth, and there’s no way you could have known this – they posted this shit from Norway, where they enjoy dual citizenship thanks to a parent with the poor judgment to move to Amerikkka during the Bush 2.0 years. When it got too stressful here, they booked a trip the fuck outta here, so…yeah, tell me again how you’re out protesting the state of America before the white cis-men?

Fifth – for extra credit – yes, it only took two comments before the impact of the potential damage this inaccurate shitpost could create became clear: a commenter asked them to make it shareable and by the time I screen shot this, it had been shared 3 or 4 times. So, basically, this inaccurate and emotionally malignant post was being shared as some sort of internet wisdom.

My comment – which was third – was exactly

Generalize much?

That earned me only a 😡 reaction from the poseur poster, which I had to call out along with enumerating my issues with the factual and moral issues I had with this post. The response I got was basically “What I meant was” followed by the same inaccurate statement including absolutes and emotionally charged words. But in all caps, apparently for clarity.

We’ve gone back and forth for three days now. And I say “we”, but really, it’s been me engaging three friends of theirs, two of whom blocked me after responding, which earned them the nickname of Seagulls since they just flew in, shit on me and then flew off again.

Have I mentioned that using the block button usually signals to me that someone knows on some level that they have no valid position to argue, so they don’t. But instead of admitting their error, they just block the person who pointed out their error.

Very mature, I know.

Anyway, this original poster has popped in twice after his all cap non-response. Once to reply only “Yikes” to a rebuttal of mine to one of their friends. The other to comment something like “Yeah, see?!?” to another friend’s comment to me – which was basically a personal attack like “This is why no one likes you”.

This example of myopic behavior – nothing matters but my rights and I will tell you if you’re supporting me wrong – is particularly bothersome to me. The implication is that they aren’t happy and the cost for that is that no one else can be happy.

Only then will things be right.

In this case, the wronged party is a trans woman, whose deadname I respectfully forgot – also CRS – in spite of the fact that their chosen name reads like syphillis. Even though I know their chosen first name represents the Earth in Norse mythology and is also the wife of Thor.

Humble, no?

People who fancy themselves social activists need to be responsible. The theme of the rebuttal comments were basically targeted at the gall I displayed by daring to challenge a minority group member’s inaccurate language.

Imagine. Me, an old white man. I seemed to be the only one concerned with how close this post came to demonstrating that equality wasn’t the goal, punishing people who had more or got more sooner was the only acceptable outcome.

These individuals had zero problem setting aside the fact that we were members of the same subculture – that being the LGBTQI+ community – and how dare I call for unity when I am white and cis-gendered.

Really?

I most certainly made a comment that they – the original poster, not all commenters (gender neutral pronouns are sometimes real head-scratchers in conversation) – were behaving immaturely as evidenced in both their irresponsible choice of words and their intractable stance at how potentially destructive they were. But I followed that up with the fact that despite how often I see posts that I feel miss the target, I’m still supporting my community with my vote.

Not because they prove through their words and actions that they deserve equality – they don’t, as a matter of fact, Pride season any more just makes me want to stand on a corner holding up a cardboard sign saying “What have you actually done to feel proud?” because I can’t tell what it is anymore – but because equality is the right way to vote.

Despite the fact that marriage equality – since it was the example used in the post – isn’t something I vote for for my own selfish reasons, as my marrying ship has sailed. I vote for candidates who espouse continued support of that right and others – DACA, Roe, ObamaCare – because the rights of younger generations with their futures ahead of them deserve these rights.

Despite the fact I’ll likely not personally avail myself to them.

In spite of the petty manner in which they demand these rights and the manner that they destroy their own culture from inside in pursuit of them.

I vote for what’s right.

Sometimes I feel like our country can be divided into two factions that are beyond politics or religion:

Binocular Vision vs Monocular Vision?

That seems like a fairly safe way to phrase it. It’s only vaguely threatening to a myopic citizen’s ego.

It’s certainly safer than a more overt but nonetheless accurate Adults vs Children. Not that it matters, regardless of how one labels the two factions, I’m not sure the adults can stop the children from what I’m convinced will be a pyrrhic battle to get their way.

I’m sad and scared to think of how much further into the bowl this country can swirl before it disappears.

The Word of the Day is: Myopic

TIL #11: Hyperbole

Maybe this isn’t a Today I Learned so much as it is a Today I Figured Something Out. Yet another thing you old bastards have been keeping from me!

Y’know, those little a-ha! moments. They really are fewer and further between than I’d have figured as a know-it-all kid. As a matter of fact, surrounded as I find myself by such stupid Americans, I’m surprised that there isn’t much more fanfare when it does happen.

Note to self: throw mental parade next time this happens, you earned it.

Like that time I finally got why it’s called a blow job. I’d simply been looking at it from the wrong <ahem> perspective.

Those types of a-ha moments. Or in that particular case, “ah-ah-aaaahhh-ha” moments.

Well, today…there I was, underthinking things when another one* hit me.

When I’m in a funk and spiraling downward, my older and wiser (just ask them, they’ll tell you) friends will tell me

It’s not that bad!

and I’ve always considered those to be words of encouragement. But as another deluge of Headlines-turned-Cautionary-Tales washed over me this morning, it hit me.

A-ha!

They must surely have been silently adding a word in order to not give away the surprise.

It’s not (only) that bad!

It’s worse.

Just wait.

Much, much…worse.

It’s funny, too. As I’ve been aging – involuntarily, obviously – I’ve found myself warning younger people. When they say something that I know (now) to be naive, I’ll whisper conspiratorially

Listen, I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but…

I figure it’s safe, knowing that they likely stopped listening to me when I said the word “listen”, because what could I possibly know, right?

On the other hand, sometimes I like to co-opt my old frenemy Dan Savage’s lil chestnut of wisdom and just push people down a little harder when they say something naive

It gets worse

I really like that one, since I think I mentioned people don’t really listen anyway. I just get my lil chuckle either way. Either because I can tell they didn’t listen and heard what they assumed they would hear or they did hear and…that look!

I don’t give away the surprise. I just leave the warning hanging there, sagely. However, when it finally does happen, I then get to say

Don’t say I didn’t warn ya

I’m just kidding. I don’t really do that.

Oops. Look at me…leaving words out, just like the grumpy old man that I am.

That should have said

I’m (mostly) just kidding

I do say those things, but just for fun.

My fun.

But since I’m old people humor me because I might be dangerous, we all get a good – if not awkward – chuckle.

The reality is that I turn my hyperbole on myself.

For.

Instance.

In the last couple weeks, a couple of my original blog buddies have poked their cute little heads back into the WordPress arena. It’s good to see old friends familiar avatars around this dusty old joint again.

In one of their returns – via comments on one of my blog posts and their blogosphere re-entry blog entry – we discussed the states of affair in his life.

Turns out he’s been having one lately. Or at least a low-key dating experience.

Graduated college.

Job searching.

Put on his – and this turn of phrase of his made me jealous because it’s really funny – COVID-15. But it’s ok, he says, because his beau likes him just the way he is.

Funny. When Myrt barfs on the floor, I clean it up. However, today I also learned that when I barf on the floor…I also clean it up.

Luckily, it was imaginary puke.

Anyway, in one of those moments of self-directed wry hyperbole – dryperbole? Chrisism – I thought to myself

Yeah, yeah…we get it – you’ve got a boyfriend

in faux exasperation – because secretly I’m a big emotional schmuck and it makes me happy when people begin relating.

But I went on to have this whole follow up conversation in my head

Some people just keep these things to themselves instead of blabbing them all over town

I said to myself.

For instance,

I said, mentally touching my pearls.

I like to keep these things to myself when I like a boy. I find that as soon as someone finds out they’re my boyfriend – pffft! – they’re gone.

Meh, wudyagundo – in my head I’m both my worst enemy and my best audience. It’s a bit crowded up there.

But I get a good chuckle out of that.

Anyway, if you ever find me letting hyperbole that you think should probably be silent out for a stroll, don’t be offended…try and enjoy it.

Because it’s probably gonna end up being right.

Yeah, I’m Ouisa.

*I’d just like to clarify, the whole blow job a-ha moment was back before the turn of the century…not recently.

TIL #11: Hyperbole

It’s Finally Happened

Just as I knew it would, mind you.

A friend of mine – and this is independent of our friendship, so just don’t – has been diagnosed with PTSD.

From dating.

While what I call Gay Kulture continues to poo-poo my observations of how we enable this lousy behaviors as I stand by and warn that they’re disabling emotionally normal people.

Well, like I said…I did see it coming. Which also means that I get to use this gif:

Further, I’d go one step further and say the only thing that makes this diagnosis unique is that gay men are too narcissistic or oblivious to admit that therapy would do them good.

Collectively, I think gay men delude themselves into believing that as long as they look good, nothing is wrong.

Six pack abs? ✔️

Trendy haircut? ✔️

Sexy undies? ✔️

Yeah. It’ll all be ok, as long as you’re on PrEP. But no one checks in on their mental health and brags about keeping the psyche in shape. At least, it doesn’t happen nearly enough.

You know what takes strength?

Confronting your demons or being healthy enough to stand your ground when confronted with someone else’s. Traditionally, I think gays consider happy hour and indiscriminate sex all the therapy and validation they need.

It’s not.

And this is where that leads.

This PTSD wasn’t due to domestic or physical abuse, and I don’t want to go into specific details, obviously. Rather, this particular diagnosis was the result of someone I armchair diagnosed as a covert narcissist just bailing on their live-in relationship with my friend and then blaming the victim instead of taking accountability for his own shit behaviors.

It was galling to observe, I can’t imagine what it was like to actually endure.

And the result is PTSD. That seems like a pretty high price to pay just for opening oneself up to the potential for love.

My default explanation for the maturity deficiencies in my culture is usually AIDS. While I think there’s definitely a contributing factor argument, I also think it is only that: a contributing factor.

Sure, younger generations of gays are exponentially more “confident” than older gays were at that age. But confidence does not equate to emotional competence. And that’s what we’re dealing with here is an incompetence.

I love the simplicity of stating “That’s not ok” when I see an example of bad behavior. What surprises me about that is how eager other people are to defend the subject of the observation.

“Oh, that’s not what they meant” or “You’re being too hard on them” are common responses to my call out.

I don’t know what they meant their actions to communicate, nor do I think my friends do when they come to someone’s defense.

But it happens.

Every damn time.

Why?

While I find it interesting that there’s a behavioral correlation to Trump supporters’ defense of their pride and joy PoS leader, I don’t think it’s the same motivation. With Trump supporters, I think they vote for and defend the symbol of the behaviors they themselves want to be able to get away with.

With gays, I think it’s a different motivator.

My gut says it’s fear. But of what?

Some sort of Homo FOMO?

Probably. With a side of the American Dream.

We all want what we want, and we certainly don’t want someone else to have something we don’t. That competitive selfishness makes us pursue things – including people – at all costs. This without thinking about the collateral costs – again, including people.

It’s so destructive. Not just to the self, but to anyone in this Greed Splash Zone.

So, here we are.

It’s time for people to stand up and start saying enough. Out loud. Because people can’t be fixed with a meme…and I think these Life In The Time Of COVID days we’re living in is a good time to start.

Hell, to end on a really sad note, with restaurants and bars being forced to close and gyms and movie theaters closing down voluntarily to protect us from our idiot selves, you’d think maybe, just maybe Grindr would have self policed and shut down.

Nope.

So, on top of we’re all gonna die from COVID, now we’ve got to damage each other on the way out.

It’s Finally Happened

Lemme Fix This For You…

Here’s a shituation – and you can feel free to call this “being judge-y”. I don’t care, I’m making a point. Personally, I prefer to call this an observation. Since it’s also an accurate observation, people will see it for the indictment that it is.

Hopefully.

I was scrolling through the notties on the asocial media this morning whilst being lazy in bed and came across this gem. A real stand out in a bumper crop of guys exemplifying how gays have gone from fabulous to frivolous in just a couple of generations.

But on Grindr, all you really need to have in order to set yourself apart from that group is a face pic.

Or a shirt.

Either way – pretty low bar.

Here’s the profile:

This guy needed to be slapped or shaken as a child. Maybe if he’d had a mildly traumatizing childhood, he wouldn’t have grown up to fetishize those things – assuming that when he says “wild” in his profile, he’s talking about kink. And his Instagram confirms he lives in Portland, so I’m assuming kink is a given.

Actually, there’s just a lot of people here who came to Portland, didn’t get it, can’t afford to leave on a PT barista income and are using kink to just feel something besides their oppressive existential gloom.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Don’t worry, I’m not going all the way back to the beginning beginning – reading regulars will already know my take on open marriages.

Synopsis: you’re with the wrong person.

Everthemess, here’s this guy imploring potential suitors – if you can call them that, since the best case with this guy is missing out completely an orgasm – that they be exciting.

I’m unreasonably excited that he at least said “please”. Albeit in a totally lazy manner. Thankfully, he didn’t bore me with a pithy “Plz”…there is a difference.

No, the beginning I’m going back to is actually only as far away as that headline.

More specifically, the follow up.

Pls be exciting

If you follow that up with “Happily married”, I’m left with little choice but to call BS.

Here…

Crappily married

I fixed it.

Pls be exciting + happily married = you don’t understand the core concept.

I’m not even going to parse out how the words “fit” and “tummies” don’t actually belong in the same sentence. Well, ok…but I’m only sparing him one thought there:

This guy put the “moron” in oxymoron.

I’ve stopped trying to understand the avalanche of people in open relationships. It’s beyond my capabilities to help.

However, what I’m left with is the shock and amusement that these people think they can do better. I mean, seriously…you trapped tricked one person into a relationship, that already seems like a lot for you. Now you think you deserve random hookups, too?

I’m just gonna say it, those random hookup? Well, that’s the best you deserved. But this is America, by all means expect more, you Montessori level Stupid American.

There’s an old saying, “Boring people get bored”. Sweetie, if you need exciting people around to be excited, well…

At the same time, since I’ve visited the Instagram you linked in your profile, let’s talk about that. You took a trip to Thailand in December with your husband. That certainly seems like what some people would consider a “trip of a lifetime” – not to mention exciting.

Yet, here you are, hand out for more.

I hope you don’t mind my saying you are a bit more physically attractive than your spouse.

Couple years younger, too?

I’ll go out on a limb and assume he paid for the trip.

As well as your gym membership to some douche-level gym. You’re not coming across as someone who’d be satisfied with a pedestrian level gym like 24 Hour or LA Fitness.

So boring, those gyms.

As I’m assuming your spouse must be. If you’re looking for exciting – I’m assuming it’s not as an escape to all the excitement of your home life.

But, well…I guess my earlier synopsis covered that. Leaving us to riddle out how you failed to grasp the core concept behind the phrase “happily married”.

Unless

Are you defining happiness as having some rube provide you with the foundational levels of Maslow’s pyramid?

My guess is that’s the elephant in the bedroom. That awkward time of the week (for his sake, I hope getting a little unenthusiastic weekly sex from his future ex is the return on his investment in you) where you’ve gotta “pay rent” to the guy who probably does love you and demonstrates it by making sure your physiological and safety layers are solid.

Leaving you to shuffle uncomfortably from one foot to the other when confronted with level three. Hoping your asocial media trolling drops someone hot enough exciting in your lap.

If it happens, I’m sure the three of you (you, your exciting person and your community property divorce settlement) will all be very happy together…until you realize that your top tiers of esteem and self-actualization were just bastardizations of pride and unnecessary levels of physical fitness built of someone else’s projection of love and belonging on to you.

Then you’ve got to hope your landing from the fall from that top tier isn’t too devastating for you to start over at the third level again.

Hopefully, that’s an exciting challenge for you, Sugar.

It’s certainly not exciting at all to observe. It’s depressing as all get out, to be completely honest.

I’ve lived both sides of the scenario this guy is embracing – well, not the delusional crappily married part, so I guess I started out a little better prepared than him – and you know what? I’ll take my occasional ennui over his absent excitement any day.

Either you know why, or you don’t. There’s really no explaining it to people who don’t get it – kind of like trying to reason with Trump supporters at this point. If they still support him, it’s absent of reason.

But I still get out of bed each day hoping there are enough people who understand that not getting it isn’t the first step in the journey; knowing that you probably don’t even know you aren’t getting it is step one.

Those people are exciting!

Lemme Fix This For You…

A Study In Opposites

That’s what I am.

Somewhere today, I got a wild hair to start cleaning up my Instagram. I had noticed a few days ago that my follow to followers ratio was about 3:1.

I wouldn’t say that bothered me, per se, but I did wonder what that imbalance provided me.

Entertainment.

Giving it a very little bit more thought, I added a qualifier or two.

Minimal and prurient.

I was able to admit that I got nothing out of this but minimal entertainment watching strangers’ stories and pics as I mindlessly scroll my free time away. Sometimes that entertainment is minimally thrilling, too, as several of the folks I followed were prone to what I like to call soft core selfie-porn.

A lot of this was obviously one-sided, too…remember that 3:1 ratio?

There were also random or aspirational restaurants that I hadn’t gone to in over three years.

Some had closed.

There were people I chatted with on asocial media back during my 2018 writing challenge that led to Dating Into Oblivion. Some of these pages had zero posts, and only ever posted story videos.

A couple of the empty pages had thousands of followers, too. Thousands of followers without a single post?

Yeah…hi, comrades.

A few of the pages I deleted hadn’t posted in years. I knew some of them and wondered if the attention they put into their pages shifted to relationships.

There were a couple of friends that I knew had died. I just couldn’t delete their pages. Is that nuts?

So, what’s the opposite?

I’m doing this as I am actively adding friends on the Facebook. Last year, I started weaning myself off of my Facebook habit. When I wasn’t driving, I had lots of free time during my public transit commute to spend mindlessly scrolling through social media.

Now that I’m driving and notably not commuting to or from work, I wanted to put a little discipline into that scrolling habit.

But ever since mid-December, I’m adding friends on Facebook. Some are friends of friends. Others are guys I had texted with after hitting it off on asocial media. One worked at a bar that suddenly shut down a couple years back. Still others were just cute.

Shoot me, ok? I’m a guy.

But the real standout was a guy that currently works somewhere I worked three or four years ago.

Four. It was four years ago.

What truly set him apart was that I’d given him a ride in my car! I had picked him up from a something-con at the convention center a few months back.

He granted my friend request and then began chatting with me on Messenger.

Our conversation was catch up stuff on the random crossovers in our lives.

Then some strange things began dropping into the conversation.

How old are you, hon?

And “hon” had company like “dear” and “sweetness”…which in chat is a little hard to interpret.

So, I just flat out ask the question.

Are you flirting with me?

Too many denials followed. Enough that I was left feeling both undesirable and dubious about their veracity.

A couple days later he drops in that he has a date.

I mentioned that ~36 hours after clearing up his disinterest in me was a little too soon to begin parading a date with someone else into the conversation. He apologized. Then mentioned he had a follow up date the next day.

So wait…you’re going on a first date on Christmas Eve and already scheduled a follow-up for the next day? What if you don’t like him?

“Oh, that’s what the second date is for! We’re doubling with my bestie – I won’t know if I like him until my best friend meets him.”

Wow. Don’t give away all of your decision making power there, Sparky.

I also thought, what a junior high level dating mistake. That thought just kind of faded into the mist of my memory since I had no further contact with him. I actually began to wonder if he’d unfriended me.

I popped over to his page and the very top post – from just a few hours before – was “In A Relationship With”.

It had been a week since their first date. And he lives an hour south of town.

Kids.

Outside of this post, I kept my thoughts to myself. But each of the red flags he’d bemoaned during our chats was now being waved in celebration…

The bestie must have really liked him.

But as the realization and acknowledgment of my – oh, hell – inconsistent behaviors settled in, i consoles myself with the knowledge that at least on the Facebook it’s a mutual decision. With Instagram, you can pretty much follow whoever strikes your fancy. That’s the allure, Insta is more entertainment than actual friendship.

At least my list building is mutual.

And in the other hand…

I’m down to about a 2:1 ratio on Instagram. So, there’s that.

A Study In Opposites

Well, That Was A Surprise

You know, when I tapped out my quick observational post yesterday about misspellings and malapropisms, I really didn’t expect much to come of it.

~150 words

~400 followers

It just didn’t seem like anything more than therapeutic whining into the web on my part. And it’s not like I’ve ever expected AtLeastIHaveAFrigginGlass to have a viral moment. My readers read me for what I assume is either entertainment or cautionary tale on their part.

Plus, I’m not a millennial. In my day, having a viral moment could have killed me. Still might, thanks to anti-vaxxers.

True to the norm of my form, I got a few likes, some comments here on WordPress and a few of the same over on my blog’s lil Facebook page. I guess it was the range of the comments that struck me; topical and emotional range.

Frustration.

Location.

I mean, this was just a couple careless and unguarded moments of intelligence fail.

But then I also got texts.

Friends telling me they know they need to proof their texts now before sending them – one called out specifically before sending them to me – or reminding me that I know that they know that they don’t proofread their texts. Hell, my best friend and I have that conversation in some way, shape or form weekly – it’s not like it’s a deal breaker for our friendship, it’s more a source of amusement.

FYI, for his part, the Silver Fox tried to guess who the “ethnically” challenged person was.

But I felt like some comments were a reminder of where I was way back when my friends first started calling me out for my grumpiness. I hashtagged my post with #StupidAmericans because that’s the theme it fit. I remember how…angry I used to get about the embarrassingly stupid things I would observe people doing in their daily lives. Maybe not so much angry as just so surprised that I had a physical as well as emotional reaction to the situation.

It would almost always fade to a sad, shocked amusement at the state of intellect in America. Now I think my observational reaction is more resigned.

Yup. Still dumb.

Without investing too much effort into quantifying whether our trajectory is toward more or less dumb or maybe even holding a steady level of stupid.

C’mon, though…more stupid is clearly the correct assumption here.

Take it from Antoine.

I think – other than defensiveness, and you know who you are! – that the responses that were loudest involved overcompensated people in the workplace. Hell, there was enough material about workplace nincompoops to take the qualifier out of that and just call them People Who Are Shockingly Holding Down A Job.

What do we expect, though?

I saw a text this morning that was something to the effect of:

People today will never know the terror of printing out directions from MapQuest and then making a wrong turn, “Too bad, now you’re lost forever!”

It’s true, too. When we miss a turn in our Nav apps, it reroutes us without even telling us we missed it.

I joke with The Fox often that I don’t need a brain, I have a phone.

Occasionally, I’m surprised to find myself in a situation where I’m discussing something with a group of friends and realize that we are collectively trying to reason something out or recall a fact. More surprising than collaborating on the answer is that none of us reaches for our phones to get the answer.

I actually enjoy those moments. There aren’t enough of them – they also give me hope.

Aside from technology dumbing us down, there’s the foundational effect of our country’s family erosion.

Kids aren’t raised by a parent anymore, well…not actively raised. Let alone raised by a co-habitating (I know, not a word!) set of parents. I think most parents get through the day with a silent prayer that their kid remained self-guided for the duration of their workday. When they interact, it’s more as friends or equals – a parenting flaw of convenience for the parent.

I mention that because I used to watch my sister and brother-in-law parent their son and talk to him like an adult to elevate his thought process and social skills. Now, I think parents talk to their kids like friends or peers in order to be the cool mom or reach backward for relevance so their kids can help keep them remain cool.

I remember seeing an Albert Finney movie once, just a story about growing up. One of his daughters is talking to him about their relationship and he says something like, “I never really thought of you kids as children”.

She asks what he considered them and he replied matter of factly, “Pets”.

I was amused by that situation, but never thought of a future where that would be the high water mark for quality parenting.

At least the master/pet relationship has a hierarchy. Sure, in my own, Myrtle is the Alpha…but there’s still rules and consequences. And when she does something wrong, she knows it was wrong. It’s written all over her smug little cat mug.

School is government funded daycare.

Teachers don’t teach anymore. They are still way under compensated for what they endure, managing to somehow come out of the worst professional situations still sane after playing relationship counselor between parents and kids at best and defense against a united parent/child front at worst.

United in denial, by the way.

Because more often than not in school, we aren’t learning English and grammar or math and science…and most certainly not cursive.

We’re learning how to get away with things and what to do when we fail to get away with something.

That what to do part? Form an alliance with our parent – by manipulating them – against the teacher. Getting busted is as much an indictment of ones parent as it is an inconvenience to the student. It seems parents respond emotionally to that inconvenience with anger toward the teacher for interrupting their day versus disappointment in their offspring.

How can that system manufacture humans who are prepared to face the world armed with a baseline knowledge of the proper use of there/their/they’re let alone be productive members of a world culture.

Have you ever asked yourself whether the apps we use make life better or easier?

I think there is an absolute difference.

Take mating apps disguised as dating apps – because they are such an easy target, sure – as a perfect example. Getting sex has become easier, because it’s now a la carte.

Some people go into the app looking for sex exclusively.

Shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

Others go into the app with hope and then abandon hope and take sex as their consolation prize when dates don’t materialize. Let’s not kid ourselves, though…they don’t abandon hope so much as they do their values. Every time they give it up for a stranger, you know in the back of their heart is a timid voice singing Maybe This Time.

Newsflash: Probably not. Maybe next time, though…

Sometimes I have to remind myself what my goal was when I wrote my first book – No One Of Consequence.

Money.

I mean…empowering a reader. It was important to me for a couple of reasons.

First: Gays used to be fabulous. Now, we’re frivolous. A friend posted this on my Facebook timeline this morning.

I love this friend. She’s funny and bold and generous and caring and she’s a survivor.

In this case, she was also wrong. But thirty or even twenty years ago, she would have been right.

But then AIDS decimated gay culture. What we managed to cobble together to replace it wasn’t better, it just wasn’t nothing. Speaking of trajectories…it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still wasn’t actually good.

So, yeah, my book took on the challenge of showing gays reaching back to elevate newer generations of gay men and help make them into citizens we can be proud of. It’s an example of what we should do for one another as people – not just as a gay subculture.

Second, I spent a lot of time being angry about Stupid Americans. We became so insular. Not just as a country, but as individuals.

Our protective bubbles became insecurity condoms: skin tight and hopefully impervious to anything that might harm us – but hopefully still allowing us to feel good in the <ahem> end.

When I gave up – as I was just on the verge of accepting my relegation to a post relevance existence – something actually happened. This story became a higher purpose in and of itself. I could use this story as a platform to show examples of how to be an individual without that individuality coming at a cost to another or to society as a whole.

After yesterday, realizing the true arc of my grumpiness, from frustrated, powerless observer to an observer who funneled that negative emotion into something…I’m left feeling grateful.

That I could contribute something to this and future generations and loosely call it art.

That a few people actually read what I have created.

Shameless plug: I’m still accepting new readers, generous reviews and shares across social media to expand upon that reach!

And that I may have channeled my frustration into what I hope is also a change in my own behaviors so that I can be a better passive example to others.

Maybe someday we’ll be at a level where I could respond to my text message from yesterday with a message like

I think the words you were looking for were “there’s” and “ethically”.

…without ending up blocked or the recipient’s default being to take that statement as offensive.

As I learned yesterday, though, those friggin’ emotional condoms that we never seem to take off work. When I left the guy yesterday, I got the distinct impression I’d never see him again. So now I’ve got to figure out whether the Universe has simply given me what I wanted all along – to not be dating a 20-year old – or if I’m supposed to continue to gently urge the guy toward an emotionally bareback* existence that he understands is safe and nurturing and not hostile.

*Just in case it needed clarification, “bareback” is a slang term for sex without a condom.

Well, That Was A Surprise

I’m In Literacy Hell

I’m aware on a daily basis that education has taken a nosedive in America.

And not “education” strictly in the school system manner. I know there are issues there, certainly. What I’m referring to is the responsibility of the individual to refresh their knowledge to ensure their intelligence continues to grow as they make their way in the world, lest we end up becoming Stupider Americans…

My daily reminders are things like the there/their/they’re and your/you’re headaches.

But today…today has been extra.

It started with a friend’s Facebook status:

I don’t run away when theirs a challenge.

Fine.

Pretty run of the mill.

Well, I mean, it’s kind of a double-whammy. He missed the contraction in his misuse of there’s.

But then this guy I’ve been chatting with sends me a text about a conflict he’s having with his boss:

I don’t think there’s a way I could ethnically do that.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Obviously, I can’t see him any longer…

I’m In Literacy Hell